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Inaugural Innovation Crossover event aims to expand collaborative research among academia, military, industry

Sept. 28, 2016

Defense and industry researchers will join scientists from IU and other academic institutions at a groundbreaking forum Oct. 12-13 designed to foster collaboration on mutual technology challenges and regional economic growth.

Convention center

Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center | PHOTO BY CHRIS MEYER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

Titled "Innovation Crossover: The Shape of Things to Come," the conference is sponsored by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division and will be held at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center. During the past year, NSWC Crane has worked with IU, Purdue University, the University of Southern Indiana, Cook Medical, U.S. Air Force Research Labs, Indiana Office of Defense Development and Radius Indiana to develop the event.

Organizers hope it will help speed the development of multi-institutional collaborations, public-private partnerships, foundations and infrastructure to deliver advances in defense technology, manufacturing, information technology, cybersecurity and the biomedical/life sciences field.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, about 25 miles southwest of Bloomington, with focus areas in expeditionary warfare, strategic missions and electronic warfare. By geographic area, it is the world's third-largest naval installation, spanning more than 100 square miles. With more than 3,100 employees, it is also one of southwest central Indiana's largest employers.

"The conference will serve as a catalyst in establishing innovative partnerships that will enhance our ability to conduct our technical mission," said Kyle R. Werner, director of NSWC Crane's Applied Science Department. "Innovation has become a foundational tenet of NSWC Crane's identity, and the event serves to broaden our network of partners across a variety of key technologies."

Rick Van Kooten, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington, encourages faculty to take advantage of an "excellent chance" to develop new innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities with NSWC Crane.

"This is a unique opportunity for faculty at IU Bloomington to learn firsthand some of the technological advances under consideration and to explore how they can apply their expertise to some of these new opportunities," he said.

Innovation Crossover will feature an array of defense, industry and university panelists, plus several prominent speakers. They include Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb; Chris Fall, assistant director of defense programs for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy; Walter Jones, executive director of the Office of Naval Research; and Brad Wheeler, IU's vice president for IT and chief information officer.

Another conference goal is to accelerate economic growth in the region.

"Our region is ripe with the talent and potential to spark a wave of entrepreneurialism and innovation. Through this event, we want to see the area's ability to foster tech-based economic development come to the forefront," said Becky Skillman, senior advisor for Radius Indiana and a former Indiana lieutenant governor. Radius Indiana is a regional partnership that represents eight southwest central Indiana counties.

So far, more than 40 participants from IU Bloomington and IUPUI are set to take part in the conference, said Kirk White, IU's military liaison and assistant vice president for strategic partnerships.

"It is our hope that this conference will not only contribute toward solving some of our biggest mutual research challenges but add momentum toward economic improvement throughout southwest central Indiana," he said.

The Innovation Crossover conference aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including building a prosperous and innovative Indiana and catalyzing research.

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